Minister Phillips: no water licenses stripped from producers

NDP minister says some licenses accidentally, not intentionally, closed

Dear editor,

Hello everyone. I would like to address some concerns I have heard from ranchers in southern Alberta about their water licences and the future of the Milk River basin.

First, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that not a single rancher in Alberta is going to be stripped of their water access. Department officials, in their work to address some legacy issues around modernizing water licences, incorrectly closed applications from a small number of producers who needed to provide some additional information in modernizing their licences. We are now working to correct this error.

Ranchers and farmers in Alberta are the foundation on which Alberta was built and they will be respected as these issues are resolved. I have directed my officials to sit down with each and every rancher who has licence issues and support them in ensuring they have the access to water they need to continue to care for their livestock and earn a living off the land.

With regard to historic water issues in the Milk River basin, there is no question that careful planning is needed. We are not talking about legislation in any form. As government explores solutions, we will work in partnership with farmers, ranchers, municipalities, and all Albertans who rely on this source of water.

I ask any rancher who received a letter in December, 2017 regarding a closure of their application to please contact my office at 1-780-427-2391 and we will assist you. Thank you.

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Columnist Will Verboven’s response:

Minister Phillips;

Thank you for kind support of my column and the publications in which it appeared. I am glad you, in response to my column and many other such columns and reports on the water rights issue across southern Alberta, have decided to change your approach and position. All of the suspicion and mistrust on this issue were created by the Minister and her department officials. And were it not for the courage of affected ranchers and media outlets to bring this outrageous government behaviour to public light, I shudder to think of the level of fear the government would have inflicted on hard-working water rights owners. Than you again for the belated common-sense.

Will Verboven

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